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The four lap Bennetts Lightweight TT should again be a highly entertaining affair at the Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy with the strongest entry the class has seen to date.

Michael Rutter tackles Ballaugh Bridge on his Paton Lightweight machine
Michael Rutter tackles Ballaugh Bridge on his Paton Lightweight machine in 2017

The top twenty seeds are packed with potential race winners but although the field could be described as wide open, two of the pre-race favourites will be the two riders who have won in the last three years – Michael Rutter and Ivan Lintin.

Ivan Lintin has won the 2015 and 2016 Lightweight TT, and took Pole for the 2017 event
Ivan Lintin won the 2015 and 2016 Lightweight TT, and took Pole for the 2017 event but it was Rutter who took the race victory last year

Lintin won the race in both 2015 and 2016 and the Dafabet Devitt Racing rider had hoped to complete his hat-trick twelve months ago on his Kawasaki before Rutter halted his run. The Midlands rider took his fifth TT win while riding the Paton SC-Project Reparto Corse machine lapping, like Lintin, at more than 120mph.

Michael Rutter blasts off the line on the Paton
Michael Rutter blasts off the line on the Paton in the 2017 Lightweight TT

Both riders will be on the same machines in 2018 with Rutter starting at number three this year with Lintin twenty seconds further back at number five. The latter will be keen to get back on top after finishing out of the podium places in fourth in 2017.

Ivan Lintin at Ballaugh Bridge
Ivan Lintin at Ballaugh Bridge 2017

Martin Jessopp is another rider who will be hoping to claim the top spot with the Riders Motorcycles rider having finished second and third in the last two years. One of only four riders to lap at more than 120mph on a Lightweight machine, he will start at number one and will be looking to claim his maiden TT win.

Martin Jessopp at Ginger Hall
Martin Jessopp at Ginger Hall 2017

The top ten is packed with potential race winners – none more so than Michael Dunlop who lines up at number six on a second Paton. His success in the class has been limited but he did take seventh place last year and with Rutter winning on the Italian marque last year, the 15-time TT Race winner will be confident he can do the same.

IEG/KMR Kawasaki have a great chance of victory with Peter Hickman who will again start at number ten. The Burton upon Trent rider took third place in 2017. Gary Johnson will again start at number seven on the WK Moto and, following his fourth place in 2016 and lapping in excess of 117mph on the constantly improving Chinese machine, the Brigg rider will be another contender.

Peter Hickman negotiates Ginger Hall
Peter Hickman negotiates Ginger Hall in 2017

Other seeded top ten riders including Daniel Cooper who starts at number three on his KW Electrical/CMS Kawasaki, Stefano Bonetti (8) and Ian Lougher (9). Italian rider Bonetti will be hoping for better fortune this year after retiring from third place in 2017 while veteran Lougher can never be ruled out.

Dan Cooper at Union Mills
Dan Cooper at Union Mills – Image by Mark Walters

Just outside the top ten and starting at numbers 11 and 12 respectively are McAdoo Racing Kawasaki’s James Cowton, third in 2014, and last year’s best newcomer Adam McLean who will ride the Roy Hanna Motors-entered machine – both of whom are capable of podium finishes.

Michael Rutter at Creg ny baa during Friday’s Bennetts Lightweight TT. at the 2015 Isle of Man TT. Credit Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press Intl.
Michael Rutter at Creg ny baa during Friday’s Bennetts Lightweight TT. at the 2015 Isle of Man TT. Credit Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press Intl.

Former Manx Grand Prix winner Michael Sweeney starts at number 13 on the Kiely Heating Kawasaki machine and he’ll be followed down Glencrutchery Road in quick succession by the two other IEG/KMR Kawasaki riders, Danny Webb and Derek McGee.

Jamie Coward, Rob Hodson, Derek Sheils and last year’s Manx GP Lightweight race winner Darren Cooper complete the top twenty while other riders on the entry include Michael Evans, Barry Lee Evans, Barry Furber, TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton, Craig Neve, Joey Thompson and Maria Costello, again the only female representative in the solo field.

Michael Rutter took his first TT win since 2013, and his fifth in total, when he won Wednesday afternoon’s Bennetts Lightweight TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races
Michael Rutter took his first TT win since 2013, and his fifth in total, when he won Wednesday afternoon’s Bennetts Lightweight TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races

Czech Republic rider Michal Dokoupil, Austrian Julian Trummer, France’s Timothee Monot and Xavier Denis and Japan’s Masayuki Yamanaka lead the overseas challenge in the race which saw almost 80 entries received.

2017 Bennetts Lightweight Isle of Man TT Race winners' podium: Martin Jessopp, Michael Rutter and Peter Hickman
2017 Bennetts Lightweight Isle of Man TT Race winners’ podium: Martin Jessopp, Michael Rutter and Peter Hickman

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